Election 2017 debate: Parties clash on Brexit


Debate panel.
Huw John


Huw Edwards presented the BBC Wales debate on Tuesday night

Leading politicians from the five main parties have clashed over Brexit in the BBC Wales TV Leaders’ Debate.

Labour first minister Carwyn Jones said Theresa May had no plan for Brexit.

Conservative Darren Millar said Wales would be “right at the heart” of the talks, but Lib Dem Mark Williams said the Tories “could not be trusted”.

UKIP’s Neil Hamilton said there would be “plenty of money in the coffers” post-Brexit but Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood said Wales would lose out.

The debate on BBC One Wales follows a row between senior Tories over arrangements for their party’s representative in the event.

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Media captionBrexit clash in Welsh election debate

Mr Millar, the Tory education spokesman and AM, said the 8 June vote was a clear choice between Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Attacking the other party leaders, he said: “We can ill afford to have them taking our seat at the negotiating table. We need a prime minister who is up to the job and ready to deliver for the people of Wales.”

Responding, Plaid’s leader told the Conservative AM: “People are looking for leadership. They want to understand the plans of all of our parties, yet the Tories to failed to send their leaders to debate and to be scrutinised.

“Why? Because it is not easy for them to defence their toxic policies.”

Carwyn Jones said Labour accepted the result of the referendum, but has presented a plan to protect access to the European Union single market for Welsh business.


Darren Millar said we can ‘ill-afford’ to have other leaders at the Brexit talks


Carwyn Jones says all we hear from Theresa May on Brexit is ‘slogans’

He said there needed to be a worked-out plan from the Conservatives – without a plan, he said there might as well be a “parrot” negotiating over Brexit than the prime minister.

Mr Jones said: “There’s no plan from the Tories. All we hear from Theresa May it’s just slogans.”

The first minister also claimed a promise that Wales would not lose out in funding has been “ditched”.

“From 2020 that money will disappear,” he told the audience.


Mark Williams says there needs to be more police and investment in intelligence services


Leanne Wood says extremism can be fought if communities work together

“Talking about farming, we are hearing from Whitehall civil servants – they expect Australia and New Zealand to produce our lamb in the future – not Welsh farmers – and I will not sell Welsh farmers down the river.”

For UKIP, Welsh Assembly group leader Hamilton stressed that EU money is UK taxpayers’ money and after Brexit, Britain will be able to decide how to spend that money itself.

“There is a massive Brexit dividend coming to us the moment we leave,” he said.

“There will be plenty of money in the coffers in Whitehall.”


Neil Hamilton says there will be ‘plenty of money in the coffers’ post-Brexit

Mr Hamilton said Britain was not about to turn its back on Europe adding: “We’re not going to build a wall down the channel.”

There is “every reason” to think the EU wants to keep free trade with Britain, he added.

Mr Williams, the only Lib Dem MP in Wales, warned of a real prospect of the economy “falling off the edge of a cliff” with no deal with the EU.

He told the audience that “we can’t trust the Tories” to give Wales a voice or support Welsh interests in the negotiations. Mr Williams repeated his party’s call for referendum on the terms of Brexit.

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Media captionBBC Wales political reporter James Williams give his take on the five-party clash

Earlier in the debate, the politicians faced questions on terrorism concerns following the Manchester bombing.

Ms Wood said extremism can be fought if communities work together.

Mr Millar – who said he was brought up in Manchester – said the Conservative UK government is investing record sums in MI5 and counter-terrorism services.

For the Lib Dems, Mr Williams said there needed to be more police and investment in intelligence services. He warned strategies should be worked out with communities, not imposed from above.

Mr Hamilton said you cannot keep surveillance over 3,500 suspects, but also called for a much tougher policy on migration, which he says leaving the EU will help.

Mr Jones said his thoughts were with everyone affected by the Manchester attack and there could be “no compromise” with those responsible.